4th Quarter 2011

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tennessee monthly imports graph

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tennessee leading trade partners graph
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Tennessee International Trade Report

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The rest of Asia was actually a bit disappointing, however. Exports to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were all basically flat. So were the state's shipments to India. Tennessee's sales to the southeast nations actually fell about $85 million (a 22% drop), with losses concentrated in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. A small gain of about $10 million in exports was eked out in South Korea. The poor Asian numbers reflect in part a sizable drop in cotton exports throughout the continent, but they also show the impact of the slowing Chinese economy.

Oddly, it was the "edge" of Europe that proved the best market for Tennessee on that continent as well. Exports to Great Britain increased by $60 million, to $238 million. Aircraft and computer sales were at the heart of these gains. The rest of the continent was, for the most part, a wash. Belgium appeared to be a terrific market for the quarter, but in reality it was simply the recipient of medical equipment shipments that had been going to Luxembourg. The best "real" market gains were in France, where sales of medical instruments and whiskey led the way. The crisis-ridden southern European markets did poorly. Exports to Portugal were off by half. Exports to Spain dropped 49% for the quarter. Exports to Italy fell 22%. These three nations combined with Greece to decrease their purchases of Tennessee goods by more than $60 million. Austerity hurts! By far the largest losses in these countries were in the medical sector.

As a result of the losses in Europe, the medical equipment industry was able to post only a modest gain for the quarter. The pharmaceutical sector actually lost ground, with worldwide exports off $15 million. The automotive industry instead formed the backbone of the state's export gains. Automotive instruments, auto bodies, engines, tires, and, of course, cars and trucks themselves all had good quarters. The computer industry also did well, increasing its foreign sales by 38% (to $627 million). Several years ago, computer-related exports were primarily limited to North America and Japan, but Latin America is now becoming a significant market, and growth in Europe is occurring as well.

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